Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Israel Plans to Stop ICC From Investigating Its War Crimes

Israel Plans to Stop ICC From Investigating Its War Crimes

Wednesday, 15 January, 2020 - 08:45
Israeli forces detain a Palestinian following a protest in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike (File photo: Reuters)
Tel Aviv- Asharq Al-Awsat

The Israeli government is planning to prevent International Criminal Court (ICC) from discussing recommendations of the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to investigate war crimes committed in Gaza and the West Bank, revealed Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotubili.

Hotubili said that she could not reveal the step that would be taken to prevent the Court from convening, but stressed that it would be based on "political and judicial measures.”

Speaking to the Israeli Radio, the deputy minister claimed that many experts in international law confirm that the Court does not have the jurisdiction to investigate the case because the Palestinian Authority (PA) that filed the cases against the Israeli government does not have any legal capacity.

“The Authority is not a state and will not be a state unless Israel agrees to that,” he said, threatening that “Palestinians will regret resorting to court.”

Last month, Prosecutor Bensouda announced her office has concluded with the determination that all the statutory criteria under the Rome statute for the opening of an investigation have been met.

“In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip,” she said.

The PA confirms that a large number of international consultations it has held indicate that the Court will convene, asserting that the Authority has the powers to request the trial of Israel.

It believes that the Israeli war crimes against Palestinians, especially the settlements and killing of demonstrators, require the Court to be strict against the Israeli government, even after Bensouda issues her ruling.

An Israeli political source confirmed that the government was not satisfied with the Court’s position, and Tel Aviv and Washington were still seeking to persuade it to reject Bensouda's recommendation.

It is still possible that ICC judges positively respond to the Prosecutor’s request and agree to open the investigation, asserted the source. In that case, he explained, international arrest warrants will be issued within 90 days against a number of Israeli officials, who have been identified as suspects of war crimes.

The political source said Israel has made great efforts in recent years to persuade the Prosecutor against initiating investigations, but these attempts were unsuccessful.

After Bensouda's decision to investigate, Israel has started to take political and diplomatic measures mobilizing as many friendly countries as possible to pressure the Court to avoid investigations, according to the source.

So far, Israel has received positive messages from a number of countries that support its position, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Hungary, and Germany.

A group of senior international law experts in Tel Aviv warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his ministers, and senior army generals that the ICC might issue “secret” international arrest warrants against them and seek to effectively apprehend them on suspicion of committing war crimes.

They explained that the arrest warrants will be issued if the Court decides to open an investigation into the practices of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians.

Editor Picks